Kwong On Bank is planning to issue between $500 million and $1 billion of certificates of deposit this year, which would bring its loan to deposit ratio down to 80 per cent. Speaking after the bank's annual meeting yesterday, Kwong On Bank chairman Dr Ronald Leung Ding-bong said the bank's loan to deposit ratio rose to 87 per cent last year from 79 per cent in 1996. Dr Leung said certificates of deposit accounted for 6.7 per cent of total loans last year and the bank wanted to increase the proportion to 10 per cent. Company secretary Stephen Lau King-pong said the bank had a scheme that allowed it to have certificates of deposit amounting to $3 billion. Dr Leung said loan growth this year would depend on the interest rate trend. 'The worst scenario of high interest rates has passed and the situation has stabilised. I feel there is space to cut interest rates.' Dr Leung said the bank had set aside a specific provision of $15 million for troubled retailer Theme International Holdings last year. Kwong On Bank's 1997 specific provisions reached $18.4 million, while overall specific and general provisions for bad and doubtful debts at the end of last year was $342.7 million - 1.7 per cent of outstanding loans. He said the bank had not set aside any specific provisions this year. Theme is reported to be close to agreeing with creditor banks to freeze repayment of about $400 million.